Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

Going and Coming–Ancient Image of the boat crossing from shore to shore to stand for life/death/life transition

This quote is widely attributed to Victor Hugo's novel "Toilers of the Sea." But is it? Read more about the quote search here at Victor Hugo Central. Never-the-less, here is the well-known and comforting quotation:

I am standing upon that foreshore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength and I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of while cloud just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says: “There! She’s gone!”

Gone where? Gone from my sight, that’s all. She is just as large in mast and spar and hull as ever she was when she left my side; just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of her destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says, “There! She’s gone!”, there are other eyes watching her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: “Here she comes!” And that is dying.

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  1. This is a very comforting image of dying. That we are sailing from one home to another. From one shore to another. Whoever wrote this quote was surely a masterful writer and it is a bit of prose worth studying for its cadences and technique.

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